Paleocurrent and fabric analyses of the imbricated fluvial gravel deposits in Huangshui Valley, the northeastern Tibetan Plateau, China

Xiaodong Miao, Huayu Lu, Zhen Li, Guangchao Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gravel deposits on fluvial terraces contain a wealth of information about the paleofluvial system. In this study, flow direction and provenance were determined by systematic counts of more than 2000 clasts of imbricated gravel deposits in the Xining Region, northeastern Tibetan Plateau, China. These gravel deposits range in age from the modern Huangshui riverbed to Miocene-aged deposits overlain by eolian sediments. Our major objectives were not only to collect first-hand field data on the fluvial gravel sediments of the Xining Region, but also to the reconstruct the evolution of the fluvial system. These data may offer valuable information about uplift of the northeastern Tibetan Plateau during the late Cenozoic era. Reconstructed flow directions of the higher and lower gravel deposits imply that the river underwent a flow reversal of approximately 130-180°. In addition, the lithological compositions in the higher gravel deposits differ significantly from the lower terraces, suggesting that the source areas changed at the same time. Eolian stratigraphy overlying the gravel deposits and paleomagnetic age determination indicate that this change occurred sometime between 1.55 Ma and 1.2 Ma. We suggest that tectonic activity could explain the dramatic changes in flow direction and lithological composition during this time period. Therefore, this study provides a new scenario of fluvial response to tectonic uplift: a reversal of flow direction. In addition, field observation and statistical analyses reveal a strong relationship between rock type, size and roundness of clasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Gravel
  • Huangshui Valley
  • Northeastern Tibetan Plateau
  • River terrace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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